Monday, September 29, 2008


Last weekend, Noah and Samuel went on a backpacking camping trip with Pathfinders. They left on Friday afternoon and came home on Sunday afternoon. It took quite a bit of preparation for this trip, because they had to be able to pack everything they would need for the weekend in a pack they would be carrying themselves. The group leaders made sure that no one carried more than 25% of their own body weight, so that meant that little Samuel didn't actually carry everything. He couldn't carry his sleeping bag. Neither of them own a tent or camping stove, so they didn't have to carry those either. They shared with older (larger!) boys who had them.

They were very nervous about going. The leaders talked about hiking 5 miles a day, and warned about blisters and wet shoes. I was nervous too. I was worried about it getting very cold, or raining a lot. As it turned out, it did rain. A LOT. (the total rainfall for the weekend was 2 inches!) Friday night we had a huge thunderstorm, with thunder and lightning, and lots of rain. It drizzled a bit Saturday morning, but luckily the temperatures actually were warmer than they had been the last few days.

The church had arranged to have a potluck picnic in the state park where the Pathfinders were hiking, so we could provide them with a nice big lunch that they wouldn't have to carry. By lunch the sun was out and it was turning into a nice day. We had the food set up, and finally the hikers started arriving. I didn't realize they had separated a bit, and were arriving in groups. The first group of older kids got there first, and I couldn't find my boys. I was a little worried about them, but was reassured that they were fine. Finally I spied Samuel coming down the path.

Samuel arrives

Although tired, he was in good spirits. After a little rest he started in on lunch. He started with the brownies, LOL. At long last, poor Noah finally arrived. He had been doing fine, but he had been assigned to walk with the leader who was in charge of the rear, catching any who fell behind. Noah HATED being last! He was in quite a bad mood when he got there.

Noah arrives

He did feel better after a bit, and ate a good lunch. There was a discussion amongst the leaders about whether or not to continue the hike, because the rain was supposed to return, and the next section of hike was uphill. They were concerned about getting to the site and getting set up before dark, and before the rain. Apparently they had a lot of difficulty the night before because there was a thick fog just before the rain, and they had a rough time following the trail, even without rain. They arrived much later than they had planned.

Noah really perked up at the thought that he could go home, but instead the leaders decided to drive the kids to a parking lot much closer to the next stop, so they would be sure to have enough time to set up before dark. Rats, Noah was grumpy again LOL.

They were also earning a Tree Honor, which is like badges in Boy Scouts. The younger kids, who are Adventurers, also worked on their Tree Honor. Caleb and Micah are in that group, and they enjoyed wandering in the woods collecting leaves and learning about trees.

While they waited, some of the kids played on the swing:

This is the only picture I got of Troyer, Caleb, and Micah lol
kids swinging

And here are the younger two, with friends:
kids on swing

After the picnic was over, the Adventurer leader invited the younger kids to her house for a hay maze and snack. She raises goats, so she and her husband stacked bales of hay in the shed and made tunnels for the kids to crawl through. All 5 of the boys left (yes, Troyer too!) had a great time climbing through there.



After a dinner of tomato soup, grilled cheese, and apple juice, the kids played some board games, and then it was time to head home for bed. By then, the rain was coming down in buckets again! Arrgh!

Sunday morning came with more rain, but much lighter than the previous night, and by the afternoon it had cleared up. I picked the boys up, happy to see they were still in good shape! Again, Samuel seemed pleased to have accomplished the feat, and Noah was just grumpy LOL. All of their things were muddy and wet. But they didn't get a single blister! I am very proud of them for sticking it out to the end.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

These Guys are Awesome

We've been watching America's Got Talent, and Nuttin' But Stringz have been at the top of our list of favorites from the very beginning. They make playing violin COOL!

I didn't know they made a music video. I like this one because the kids in it can't dance any better than my kids or I can. But they are having so much fun!

The final of AGT was last night, and while Noah really wants the piano player/singer Eli Mattson to win, the rest of us are pulling for this duo. According to the judges, they have a very good chance!

ETA: I replaced the embedded videos with links, so people with dial-up (you know who you are!) can load the page more quickly.

eta2: Arrgh I'm trying to make them clickable links, and I can't remember how! Blogger has a button for "insert link" but when I use that, it doesn't show up at all! Can someone remind me how to make the link clickable? Thanks!

eta3: Woohoo I figured it out!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Is It Over Yet?

I am going to become a hermit until mid-November. Seriously. I expected the obnoxious ads on tv. I expected the obnoxious ads in the mail. I expected the nasty dirt flying in both directions on the news and in the papers. I even expected to hear opinions all over the internet. But last night was more than I ever wanted or expected.

Last night I went out to the store to buy bread and milk. As is not unusual for the store with the least expensive bread, the shelves were bare. Irritating, but when it is 1/3 the price of anywhere else (including the other brands on this store's shelves) I have come to expect it. Up on the top shelf were 3 slightly smashed loaves of wheat bread. As I was debating whether my boys' complaining about "dirty" bread was worth trying to scale the shelves to grab 2 of them down, another family came by, also looking for some cheap bread. We stood and talked about how this store often runs out of bread, and how it is so much less expensive here than anywhere else, even at the same chain's other locations. Out of the blue, the dad says "I can't wait for next February!" I was quite confused. What was going to be happening in the bread world in February? He looked at me as if I were an imbecile. "The Election!" "Oh," I said, "I don't think anything is going to change overnight just because someone new is President." In my head, I'm thinking, Please God, this man can't really think the price of bread, and gas, and milk will all magically drop overnight just because the "right" person is president now! And of course he is assuming who will win. I didn't ask who he is voting for, because I didn't want to be going there in the first place. I was shopping, not looking for political discussions. Scornfully (not towards me, at least I hope) he said, "I can't wait to see George Bush leaving the White House." Um, ok. At that point his wife and kids started pushing the cart down the aisle, so blessedly the conversation was over. But wow, that is not the way I like to end a trip to the store. I like to mind my own business, thank you very much.

I am coming to think that political discussion is an oxymoron. The two words can't exist together. Political mud-slinging, insulting, yelling, yes. When people talk politics, very rarely is the one side actually listening to the other side. They are really talking to themselves, trying out the sound of their arguments on their own ears. Or worse, repeating what they heard on tv or read in the paper or on the internet, because it sounded clever to them. People are mad, and want someone to blame. Fine, very understandable. But to promote this election as if casting your vote is like waving a magic wand is just beyond ignorant.

In November, we will vote. Someone will win. Then what? We as a country will have to learn to live together again. Will we really be able to get along? Will we be able to work together? I think the number of people who actually think the country is doing great right now is pretty small. We all know there is a lot to improve, a lot to fix. And who you blame is your own business. But I think the most blame lies in the huge divide, the unwillingness of one side to listen to the other, the whole fact that there are "sides."

Personally, I can't wait for December, when people will keep their "side" to themselves.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This Weekend Was Busy

but not for me so much, as it was for my friend Catherine. I spent the weekend online, waiting for updates, because she spent the weekend having a baby! Woohoo! She had her 5th boy (and 13th baby!) on Saturday morning. Congratulations Catherine!!! Go ahead and click on the Bread in the Oven blog link over in my side bar ----->
and check out her new little cutie!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Holiday Fun

Last weekend, for the Labor Day holiday, Chris' parents had the family over for a picnic. It was on Sunday, because that fit in better with everyone's work schedules. The weather was beautiful, and the food was good. There were a lot of family there that we haven't seen all summer, so it was nice to get together. I was busy talking, so didn't get too many pictures, but after dinner, Chris and the boys played a game of whiffle ball in the yard.

If you see a little one in a skirt, she's not mine (sigh). She is the daughter of Chris' cousin. She has the most adorable curly red hair (double sigh).




Noah helped Jacob swing at a few pitches, and once he got a hold of the bat he wouldn't let it go! The game pretty much was over then lol.

Don't let the grins fool you, these two spend more time in a day fighting than getting along. But what great smiles!

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I came across these guys in the back yard this morning. They look cool. They also stripped the leaves off a maple sprout overnight. As I was plucking this leaf I accidentally brushed my finger against another one that was hiding on an opposing leaf. OW! It was like getting stung by a wasp.

Stay away from these guys!

These buggars are bad! I got online and read about them. They are Saddleback caterpillars, and the stings can be dangerous. The best you can do is treat them like other insect stings. These guys come out in late summer/early fall. They range from Florida to Texas, up north as far as Massachusetts. Yup, I'm smack dab in the middle of that range, lol. Funny, I haven't seen them before. I guess they like fruit trees, although I found these on a maple. They hide on the undersides of leaves, so they'll catch you unaware when you are gardening. Watch out for them!

Mean little buggars

Friday, September 05, 2008

Something to Think About

I got this in an email today. Thought provoking, at least. What do you think?

"We send our children to school at an earlier age than our ancestors did. We provide our children with a minimum of 17 years of formal education (preschool thru college). We spend more income and resources on our children than our ancestors consumed in food and shelter. We provide more organized activities for our children to improve their social skills. Yet, our children take longer to mature / grow up, are more self-centered, and less empathetic towards others.

Today’s typical child is no smarter than a child from 100 years ago or even 200 years ago (although they live much longer). The child may have acquired more knowledge in terms of pure facts but is not capable of performing simple tasks that earlier generations performed without effort or injury.

Generations ago a boy was considered a man when he reached the age of 12, later it was 16, and now today it is 24. Some experts think it is more like 30 after the boy has had some life experiences on his own. In our effort to provide and protect for our children, have we abdicated our responsibility as parents / mentors to provide our children with real meaningful growth? Is not the acquisition of knowledge without real world application just trivia?

If this is evolution, then it would appear that we are headed to a very peaceful, self-serving destruction. Or is this a form of de-evolution? Where as parents, we accept less responsibility for our children and require others to share the burdens of our decisions. Where our children proclaim ignorance of the facts even though they have been schooled in these facts for more than 2 decades.

If as parents, we want our children to mature / grow-up as nature intended it (and not when they feel like it) then should we not also grow-up and accept the responsibility for the gifts that were given to us? If there is to be any hope for our children in this world, should we not set the correct example?

Remember this when you are washing the clothes for your 30 year old son or paying the bills for 30 year old daughter. Remember this when your children won’t help you because they can’t be bothered with your problems or when they put you in a home because it is easier than physically caring for you.

Being a parent may be choice. But once you have made that the choice, it’s a lifetime responsibility. For ever and ever, till the day you expire."

Mowing the Lawn, the Green Way

Someone mentioned the other day an alternative to lawn mowers. I thought I'd show you how we do it:


In all reality, that is why they are there. Our neighbors run a dairy, and they asked permission to fence off part of our property to let the cows graze. This is an area they cut for hay early in the summer. They decided to let the cows graze instead of cutting, drying and baling it a second time.